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Gun Club For Liberals Says More People Are Joining Post-Election


Since last month's election, it seems that gun sales have been on the rise. One indicator is that FBI background checks for gun purchases shot up to their highest level in two years on Black Friday, according to the gun control news site The Trace. And another group has been reporting a recent rise in the number of people interested in guns, The Liberal Gun Club. That's an organization for left-leaning gun lovers. It has nine chapters and members in all 50 states.

According to the group's spokesperson, Lara Smith, The Liberal Gun Club has seen a big spike in inquiries since the election and a 10 percent bump in membership. Lara Smith joins us from El Cerrito, Calif., to talk about some of these figures.

Hi there, Lara.

LARA SMITH: Hi. Thank you for having me.

AUBREY: So I want to begin by asking how The Liberal Gun Club is different from the NRA.

SMITH: The NRA has its political side. We are an organization strictly for education. We do not endorse candidates. And we're a place - many of our members have joined NRA boards, other gun forums and found that they weren't welcome there because they didn't follow lockstep with the NRA's support of nearly unanimously Republican and right-leaning candidates.

AUBREY: A lot of people may assume that liberal-leaning people are less likely to be gun enthusiasts. You're saying - and then the name of your club suggests - that this isn't necessarily so.

SMITH: This isn't necessarily so. Even long before this election, approximately a quarter to a third of people who identified in surveys as Democrats also identified that there were firearms in their homes. Democrats have always been and always will be gun-owners. It's just a perception in the media - and, I think, in the party - that Democrats aren't interested in guns.

AUBREY: Tell us what you have been seeing since last month's election.

SMITH: We've seen significant more interest in our group. More women are joining, which is great. I actually run a women's shooting league here in the San Francisco Bay Area, about the most liberal area of the country you could find. And it's definitely picking up, although that's been true for a while. We are seeing more women concerned about protecting themselves, specifically about protecting themselves in their homes.

The other group we are seeing more of - and I have to give a reason for that. There is a man named Maj Toure who has started a group called Black Guns Matter. And he has been going around to urban communities getting urban communities interested in their Second-Amendment rights. He's doing great work. We have seen some uptick from that as well. So yes, definitely people who are not the stereotypical middle-aged white male.

AUBREY: So why now? What do you think?

SMITH: I think, one, there's a very small subset who feel concerned about the new government. Specifically, is this new government going to take their guns because they've spoken out about an issue that Trump or the Republicans are seen as not supporting, whether it be LGBTQ rights, the environment, all sorts of issues. That's a small subset. More what we're seeing are people who are worried about their safety as a result of some of the rhetoric that was heard during the campaign - not so much from the campaign but from really fringe groups who have encouraged a rise in hate crimes or a perceived rise in hate crimes.

AUBREY: Lara Smith is a spokesperson for The Liberal Gun Club. She joined us from El Cerrito, Calif.

Thank you, Lara.

SMITH: Thank you so much, Allison, for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELEPHANT REVIVAL'S "THE PASTURE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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